As parents we rarely, if ever, pat ourselves on the back. We focus on our shortcomings, our mistakes, that time we yelled, that hundredth time we yelled, that time we did more than just yell. Guilt comes very naturally and sometimes it’s helpful, it reminds us to get back on track and stop stepping in it so often. But often it keeps us down and tells us that we suck at this parenting thing, blerg. Well, this post isn’t about the stuff I did and will continue to do wrong. Trust me that’s coming, or should I say, THOSE posts are coming. For now, let me tell you a couple of things I did right.
I noticed when I was lacking and apologized. Yup, saying that you are sorry, that you messed up and made a mistake is one of the best things you can do for your children. Maybe you were raised to think that parents or adults do no wrong and are always justified in their words and actions. Were you? I was. I think it was a generational thing. It was a sign of weakness to say sorry. It meant that your kids were going to take over the house and never listen to you again and the world would stop spinning! Today we know better. Start young, but if your kids are older now, start now. And don’t make excuses for your mistakes, just apologize. It shows them that you are human, that they matter enough to you that you are comfortable fessing up and show humility. It’s modeling good behavior 101, so do it. It pays off, I promise.
I took time for myself. Full disclosure, I didn’t always do this but eventually figured it out. I try to stay linked to who I really was deep inside and before kids. When I separated from my first husband I got certified to be a group fitness instructor. I LOVED it! It reminded me that I was capable of being me even when my life was falling apart. I had a purpose and my brain and body got what they needed to get through. I will post more about divorce later (it’s gunna be good). When you practice self-care you are filling your lamp, so to speak. You give your amygdala a break from working overtime, you get some balance in your life. Who benefits? Everyone does. Everyone around you get’s the best part of you. You get to enjoy life and are reminded, “hey, I’m pretty cool”, “I can handle this”, “I’ll be fine when I bump into my kid in the kitchen-it won’t be awkward”. Maybe you like music, archery, painting, macrame (it’s cool now). Maybe you don’t remember what brings you joy and balance. Take the time and invest in your mental health and keep doing it, forever.
I made changes and became teachable. I eventually noticed when I was doing the wrong things over and over again just because I was exhausted, upset, didn’t know any better, or on autopilot. I wasn’t parenting on purpose, and with purpose. I was reacting and allowing my lack of planning and let my emotional brain take over and it wasn’t doing a very good job. More on this in another post. When I finally opened my eyes to improvements I could make, I made them. Yes, I kept messing up but not as often and not as epically. Stay humble and brave enough to look at yourself with critical eyes.
I told my kids I loved them. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Telling your kids you love them should be second nature. But do you really love your kid when he swears at you or makes the dumbest choices ever? When he breaks all the rules, and shows zero signs of respect? Yes, you do. You do love them, darn it all! Saying it just becomes weird and almost wrong when they are in the depths of the teen pool of insanity. This is when they need it the most. Make it a habit, start right now, text then, tell them, leave them a note. Remind them that no matter what they do, that you will always love them. You may not like them and for sure you will probably hate what they might do, but the love will always be there. Doing this helps your teen feel secure. Safety and security are your jobs. I’ll post more about how your teen receives love from you in another post. For now, just tell them.
I reminded myself of where they were developmentally. To this day I remember my mom showing me articles explaining why kids didn’t or couldn’t do everything I was expecting of them. I also remember brushing her and her article off. Dumb move on part. This was GOLD! Learn where your child or teen is at developmentally. #justletmebeyourfrintallobealready – You have to lend your frontal lobe to your kids because theirs isn’t done yet! Have conversations about decisions or mistakes and help them see the reality of things. They can’t always do that on their own. Do this with respect and if you can’t do this without yelling and judging, wait until you can. More on this to come. For now, you can find information on great parenting fundamentals below. This is a program that I’m trained in and love. Download the free PDF book. Read it. Invest in your parenting toolbox. http://www.positivedisciplineeveryday.com/public/forparentsTwo.php
“The more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
― Henry David Thoreau